ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — After two terms as governor, Rick Scott still wants you to think he's an outsider.
He also tells voters he's a bad fit for Washington — and they applaud.
Scott spoke at the Seminole County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner Saturday, promising 175 activists to "work my tail off" to beat Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida.
So far, Scott appears to be doing just that. He has tweeted about doing 30 campaign events in the first 30 days, and said volunteers recruited by the GOP have knocked on 100,000 doors in Florida.
The Scott-Nelson fight is likely to be the most closely-watched Senate race in the country.
Nelson also was in Seminole County over the weekend, personally knocking on doors in Lake Mary, and he visited the memorial for the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando.
"They told me that when I went to Tallahassee, I probably wouldn't fit in. I probably haven't," Scott told the crowd in Seminole County. "I'm probably not going to fit in in Washington, D.C., either."
The quip brought laughter and applause. But as governor, Scott is a CEO who makes decisions and rarely if ever is overruled. The Senate is a 100-member club steeped in collegiality and personal relationships.
An outsider? Some of Scott's biggest donors include Florida Power & Light, Disney, U.S. Sugar, Duke Energy, GEO Group and AT&T.
Scott's stump speech is part biographical about how his late mother, Esther Scott, guided him to success through hard work. He took credit for turning around the state's economy after the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and creating 1.5 million jobs.
He endorsed Amendment 5 on the fall ballot, to change the Constitution to require two-thirds votes by both houses of the Legislature to raise state taxes or fees. He said that hurdle should also apply to Congress, even though amending the U.S. Constitution is nearly impossible.
Parroting his own TV ad, Scott said: "Step One: We've got to get rid of career politicians." He called for term limits for senators and congressmen, but while talking about Washington, he did not mention President Donald J. Trump once.
He gave an early speech — before salad was served — and left right away and took no questions. He had to get to Miami for an all-night flight to Israel for the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem Monday.
The venue for Scott's appearance, a Hilton hotel near downtown Orlando, could have been anywhere. But it has special significance.
That's where Republican insiders met on Aug. 24, 2010, hoping to celebrate Bill McCollum winning the GOP nomination for governor, only to end up at a "political wake" — Scott ruined the party by beating him handily. It was the night Scott talked about Tallahassee's "deal-makers crying in their cocktails" over having lost.
Scott lost badly that day in Seminole County, McCollum's home, on the I-4 corridor. But Scott's primary victory put him on a path to two victories as governor and he soon became a favorite of Tallahassee insiders.
In Seminole County on Saturday, Scott said something else he said in 2010: "We're going to win."